A major new certification programme has launched with a view to validating consumer goods products that make no use of palm oil.
Unveiled to coincide with this week’s World Orang-utan Day, the new labelling scheme is now in operation in Australia and the UK following approval from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), IP Australia, and IPO UK. A further 14 nations are said to have applications pending to introduce the label in their markets.
Dubbed the Palm Oil Free Certification Accreditation Programme (POFCAP), the initiative has been set up by a group of women who have years of experience campaigning to address the environmental issues created by palm oil production.
Soaring global demand for palm oil from consumer goods companies has been widely blamed for fuelling deforestation and biodiversity loss in large parts of Asia.
A number of initiatives have been introduced to provide sustainable certified palm oil, but POFCAP said that despite some improvements efforts to tackle palm oil-related deforestation had experiences “a slow and arduous for many complex reasons”.
“After a decade of work, only 17 per cent of all palm oil used can be classed as ‘non-conflict’ however many millions of hectares of rainforest have undoubtedly been saved by their efforts,” the group added.
The group said the new label – which features a young orang-utan called Jabrick who was a victim of deforestation – would assure consumers that products contained no palm oil.
Australia-based eco cleaning products company Clean Conscience has become the first firm to carry the label, and POFCAP said it was working with a host of other companies on certification.
“Members of the POFCAP team have been involved with researching and educating people on Palm Oil production for a long time and have been increasingly inundated with people asking where or how they could buy Palm Oil free products,” said spokesperson Bev Luff. “With no fully certified Palm Oil free Accreditation Program or Trademark in existence globally we decided the only way forward was to create one.”
The group said the certification scheme would be based on extensive research that will explore and trace all potential palm oil and palm oil derivative ingredients of a product back to their source utilising a number of trusted methods until a definitive answer on its origin is found.
“POFCAP does not certify a product solely on a ‘palm oil free’ statement from an ingredient manufacturer as experience and research has shown this method does not always produce correct results,” the group said.